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Thread: Aussie Help

  1. #1

    Aussie Help

    I was hoping that someone may be able to help me. Here is a short background. I have two Miniature Australian Shepherds. My female is two years old, and my male is almost one. We use the "nothing in life is free method" continuously. We also go on a walk or run, play Frisbee, and do obedience/ mind exercises daily.

    My One year old has a little issue. He sporadically will go after other dogs. He is very well behaved at the dog park, and has no issues with other dogs. He actually seeks other dogs to play with and be around. The only time I have seen these issues is when 1) we are with his sister ( my two year old), she barks and that only escalates things and gets him worked up 2) when there are two dogs that we meet while on a walk ( can be one old and one new, but if there are two dogs that he has met before he is usually ok). Even when there are two new dogs, sometimes he is OK. He has never bit a dog but fiercely barks and kind of nips a little. I have not given him enough chance to bite a dog, I don't know if he was let go what he would do.

    For instance: I took him with me to play soccer the other night. His good dog friend ( that he was aggressive to the first couple times we met him, now he cant get enough of him and always wants to play) they were tied up together to play while we played soccer. About 15 min into playing soccer a new dog came over to hang out while her owner played soccer. I walked over to make sure that he was ok, with his past, I didn't want him to bite this dog. As soon as the female ( new) dog got there he started going crazy while his other dog friend greeted the new dog and started playing. Every time he went after her I pulled him the other way and walked until he forgot and walked with me. Did that for a while until he got tired and would sit next to her. But if I let him get close he would occasionally nip at her while she was wrestling with the other dog. Finally I let my fiance take him. He pulled him away a couple time like I was doing and then he settled down and would lay down next to the two other dogs and play with them. Then while he was playing with the dogs, the new female accidentally laid on him and he got mad and went after her again. My fiance held his leash until we finished. He could not go close to the new female with out going crazy, and we left on that note. Generally I don't let him leave on a negative note, but everything was so hectic that it was hard to continue the nonsense.

    I am frustrated because I am the type that likes to take my dogs every where, but my one year old Aussie is unpredictable ( or so I think). I am constantly training training them, but I am lost on how to fix this one.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    New York City!


    I don't have an aussie but it sounds like he's protective of females. Maybe he got "jealous" of the other male dog while he greeted the female.

    Is he like this when its just males around ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Is he neutered? If not it could be, at a year old, the ol' hormones are kicking in - time to visit Sir Jury! In any case, he's at the age where he will begin to challenge his place in "the pack" and you need to be firm with his training, and absolutely consistent. When he starts to bark at another dog, immediately correct him, and have him focus back on you - do "sit" "down" - whatever commands he knows, to distract him from the other dog, and let him calm down. Don't let him get all wound up.
    I've Been Frosted

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Northern California
    It sounds like your little guy is reactive on leash... which is very, very common. Unless something really traumatic happened, it's hard to say when a dog develops the behavior, but it becomes rewarding instantly. Your dog growls at a passing on-leash dog, and the dog walks away. The dog is actually walking away because they are on a WALK, but your dog doesn't realize that. To him, his warning drove the other dog away, and his efforts were rewarded.

    I'm dealing with the exact same stuff with Fozzie. He is awesome with any other dog off-leash, but he developed the annoying habit of getting growly/grumbly toward other dogs passing closely on-leash. I'm pretty sure it's due to my (GRRRR) neighbors whose Weimaraners are constantly jumping the fence and harassing us on walks. Gonzo is great on-leash, but began to react after Fozzie reacted when I walked them together. I totally feel for you! It's really important to nip this in the bud as soon as possible, because his anxiety could easily rub off on your female.

    What works for Fozzie is desensitizing him to seeing on-leash dogs. Are you in Obedience classes currently? It would help a ton if you were. I asked my Obedience instructors and their dogs, and other people in the classes, to help by walking around a short distance from Fozzie. The idea is to get your dog focused on you RIGHT before they reach their threshold, that being the point at which they are focused on the other dog, reacting, and not interested in learning new behaviors from you. Once a dog is over their threshold, he is no longer able to learn a new behavior. With Fozzie, I would allow him to look at the other dog, click/treat him for doing so without any negative reaction, practice his heeling and watch me's, and give him lots of praise.

    SLOWLY move closer to the other dog, while practicing watch me's and rewarding him for calmly checking out the other dog, without your dog going over threshold. Keep moving as much as possible, keep it exciting and happy, and don't punish him, as that will only exacerbate his negative view of meeting other dogs on-leash. Pay careful attention to his body language and ability to focus on you, to know when you're getting too close too soon. I was able to move this along fairly quickly with Fozzie, because he's insanely food driven. Once he realized that seeing another dog on-leash equals food and praise, it wasn't difficult to convince him to focus on me and be polite. I now make them heel when ever we're passing another dog, just to keep them close and focused on me, and I do NOT allow them to meet strange dogs on-leash unless the other person is some one I know and trust. The dynamics of two dogs meeting on-leash is totally off... they are nose to nose, which is threatening and unnatural, one or both dogs are often straining on the leash and leaning forward, which is dominant posture, and many dogs feel uncomfortable and cornered on-leash. The best way for dogs to "meet" on-leash is parallel walking, and allowing them to check each other out from the side rather than head on.

    I am still working with Fozzie, it's an ongoing process... but he's much better. He only slips up when the other on-leash dog is downright obnoxious, and it's hard to blame him for that. If you see another dog that you will have to pass up ahead, and it's straining/lunging/out of control, it's always a good idea to find an escape route or turn around and walk the other way, whether your dog is reactive or not. It sucks that a few encounters with irresponsible owners/rude dogs can cause on-leash aggression, and it will definitely take work, but it's completely possible.

    <3 Erica, Fozz n' Gonz

  5. #5

    He was fixed at 4.5 months.

    It is nice to know that I am not the only one with this problem.

    I think that I will just try the "distraction" approach. If I do this, I should probably walk them separately right? If not, it would probably be hard to distract both of them.

    Thanks again!

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